The Shapes took four years to create a debut album of jukebox-length tracks as crisp and pleasantly imperfect as if they’d done it in two weeks. This is music as immediate as a mini-skirt and unpretentious as a finger click, drawn from 1960s French and UK pop, US country twang, garage, psychedelia and post-Velvet Underground jangle, played with a 45rpm aesthetic and a cool bubblegum sensibility.
Patricia Rodriguez and Lance Pilgrim both sing: she brings an attitude of defiance and he one of anti-heroic romance. Pilgrim’s best vocal moment may be on “Miss You Tonight”, but his guitar work is all over the disc, jumping from the Pretenders to the 13th Floor Elevators as mood dictates. The bass-playing Rodriguez packs subtlety, contradiction and attitude into her voice. It is sexy and dismissive on “Pretty Words”, while sounding happiest singing “you always bring me down” and “it doesn’t matter anymore “on “When You Come Around”. The latter starts as the most obviously 1960s influenced song and then dissolves into lovely haziness and a spoken passage evocative of the terrific, forgotten, Jane Bond and The Undercover Men.
There isn’t a bad track here, but “You’ve Got My Heart “is just about perfect with its odd synth/harmonica sound. “Sun Don’t Shine” is sultry with Pilgrim’s lengthy guitar shimmer approaching Johnny Marr at his heaviest. Rodriguez is also a DJ and visual artist with an eye for design and a penchant for vinyl. The group is scouting drummers with a view to returning to gigs later this year. This material should translate to a stage, sticking as it does to a groovy DIY simplicity with just a little violin, sitar, keyboards and bells added here and there. With temperatures hitting 106 degrees, the Shapes are an antidote to the heat and to the hideous radio and obnoxious cover bands plaguing their home town, Dallas, Texas.
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// Notes from the Road
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